Saturday July 25
Suspect claimed to have 'dirt' on Clinton By Chris
RIMINI, Montana (Reuters) - The suspect in the deadly
shooting at the U.S. Capitol had been committed to a state mental
hospital in Montana and claimed to have "dirt" on President
Clinton, officials and neighbors said Saturday.
Russell Weston, 41, was in critical condition in the Washington, D.C.,
hospital where he was taken with numerous bullet wounds after Friday's
gunfight at the Capitol, which killed two policemen and injured one
Prosecutors said they would charge him with murder of a federal police
officer, a capital crime.
As investigators sought to understand how a lone gunman could penetrate
the heart of the U.S. government, his neighbors in Montana painted a
picture of a troubled, angry and potentially dangerous man.
"He just seemed odd, I stayed away," said Ken Moore, 72, who
was Weston's neighbor in this old mining town, now little more than a
collection of cabins and saloons about 30 miles south of Helena.
"He thought my satellite dish was used by police to spy on
Weston drifted between his family home in Valmeyer, Illinois, and a
barn-like cabin in Rimini, which lay just a few miles from the cabin
used by convicted Unabomber Theodore Kaczynski.
And like Kaczynski, Weston was a long-time loner who had a clear history
of mental problems.
Andrew Malcolm, communications director for Montana Gov. Marc Racicot,
confirmed Saturday that Weston had been involuntarily committed to the
Montana psychiatric hospital at Warm Springs from Oct. 11 to Dec. 2,
"This was a civil, involuntary commitment," Malcolm told
Reuters. "Something happened that caused the police to become
involved with this guy, and they suspected mental problems. A judge
agreed, and sent him to Warm Springs for evaluation." Malcolm was
unable to provide any details about Weston's time at the psychiatric
hospital. But Jerry Swihart, who worked at Warm Springs while Weston was
there, told the Helena Independent Record Saturday that Weston had
bragged about having "dirt" on President Clinton.
"He would rant and rave about how he was a personal friend of
Clinton and his family and then Clinton turned on him," Swihart was
quoted as saying. "He'd say things like 'I've got dirt on him, but
if I tell you Clinton will get me."'
Swihart said he worked with Weston at the hospital warehouse where
Weston was on work assignment.
"His concentration would keep getting back to that focal point
about Clinton and the government. He was real anti-government. I don't
remember him ever talking about much other than that," Swihart
Federal law enforcement officials said after Friday's shooting that
Weston was known as a "low-level threat" to the president.
Saturday, federal agents searched both his house in Illinois and his
Malcolm said that after Weston's release from Warm Springs in December
1996, hospital staff made appointments for him for further psychiatric
treatment at a mental health center in Waterloo, Illinois.
"We have no record of him after that (1996)," Malcolm said.
"So either he was not in Montana, or he was keeping out of
In Illinois, friends and neighbors said Weston had been an overweight
adolescent who remained forever on the fringe in Valmeyer, a
middle-class town on the banks of the Mississippi river about 25 miles
south of St. Louis.
"In school he was basically a loner. The last 20 years or so he's
kinda stayed to himself," Hank Marquadt, a former classmate, told
ABC-TV in Chicago.
Weston's father, Russell Weston Sr., told the Miami Herald that his son
was an "introvert" who lived on public assistance and had not
worked since the mid-1980s.
The elder Weston told the Herald that he argued with his son earlier
this week because he used his shotgun to kill more than a dozen cats --
apparently at the request of his grandmother.
"He shot a bunch of cats and I made him get out. I got mad, told
him, 'You gonna have to leave,"' he told the Herald.
See Also Capital
Shooter Convenient for Clinton - Lone Nut, Patsy?